Dec 17, 2018

Space telescope detects water in a number of asteroids


― Near-Infrared Asteroid Spectroscopic Survey with AKARI ―


Overview of the press release

Using the infrared satellite AKARI, a Japanese research team has detected the existence of water in the form of hydrated minerals in a number of asteroids for the first time. This discovery will contribute to our understanding of the distribution of water in our solar system, the evolution of asteroids, and the origin of water on Earth. The findings were made by the team led by Project Assistant Professor Fumihiko Usui (Graduate School of Science, Kobe University), Associate Senior Researcher Sunao Hasegawa, Aerospace Project Research Associate Takafumi Ootsubo (Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Professor Emeritus Takashi Onaka (Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo). The results were published on December 17 in the online Advanced Access edition of Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan.


Figure: Near-infrared spectra of asteroids obtained from the AKARI observations. This shows 6 examples for both C-type and S-type asteroids. You can clearly see the absorption at wavelengths of around 2.7 micrometers (indicated by the green arrows) attributed to hydrated minerals. You can also see signatures of water ice or ammonia-rich material at around 3.1 micrometers (indicated by the blue arrows). The data shown in this figure are the reflected spectra of the sunlight by the surface of asteroids.


To read the full press release, please visit the homepages of Kobe University and JAXA.

Publication details

Journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan
Title AKARI/IRC Near-Infrared Asteroid Spectroscopic Survey: AcuA-spec

Fumihiko Usui1, Sunao Hasegawa2, Takafumi Ootsubo2, and Takashi Onaka3

1Center for Planetary Science, Graduate School of Science, Kobe University
2Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
3Department of Astronomy, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo

DOI 10.1093/pasj/psy125
Paper link


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